Executive Interview – Brian Krusz, Founder & Chief People Officer

by Matt Jones, CPA

Brian Krusz is one of the most generous people I know in terms of how he spends and spreads time, treasure and wisdom. A prime example is his willingness to answer my questions! I hope you’ll gain insights from his answers and follow his proven strategies for success. 

Brian’s business, Sgt. Clean’s Car Wash, has been recognized as a Vet100 Fastest Growing Veteran Company, Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company, #4 Weatherhead 100 Company. Brian is blessed with a beautiful wife, Melissa, and two sons. 

What is the best money/financial advice you’ve ever received? (Who gave it to you, when, how have you implemented it, has it changed over time?)

My grandfather – a fireman, family man, community leader, and entrepreneur – gave me several money tips before he passed away when I was 16 years old. My fascination with reciprocity began with him.

He’d tell me, “you can’t take it with you when you die.” Followed up by, “they never write an obituary with your bank account in it.” He didn’t suggest spending money like you won the lottery or like you have endless funds; be smart with your money, use it wisely, save for the future, but also spend it. Memories are more important than a bank account. This advice has stood the test of time with me and my family.

Additional wisdom from Brian’s grandfather specific to entrepreneurship:  
–Watch the nickels and dimes and the dollars will be affected. 
–Know your numbers. If you do not know your numbers, you do not know your business. 
–Customer service is key, not slang. 

What book or books have you gifted/recommended most often? Why?

1. The Four Agreements by Don Ruiz

By far the best book you can read. I pass this out as often as I can, we use it at our company, and I reference it 2-3 times a week. It is life changing. The Four Agreements has been a big part of my life as it lays out the foundation for a radical but simple way of thinking. Follow the Four Agreements and life becomes easier, better – better for you and those around you. You will have an impact on society and, frankly, humanity. I know that is a strong statement, but if everyone commits to following these Four Agreements, we will make the world a better place.  

2. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

This is a poem I share when someone is faced with a big decision or contemplating an action. To me it is a true depiction of the decision to become an entrepreneur and the paths along the way. Taking the path less traveled has made all the difference. 😊 Take risk, take a chance, and blaze your own trail! 

3. “For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Again, not a book but we all go through tough times, unexplainable times and this bible verse keeps me on point. I believe we are always in one of three stages in our lives and fluctuate through this forever; we are either in a mess, getting out of a mess or just heading into one. It is humbling to admit, but it’s true if we think back on our lives. Every 90 days something dramatic, for good or for bad, happens. If we embrace this mentality and put our faith in God, we will get through any headwinds that come our way.  

How do you preserve the culture you’ve built at Sgt. Clean’s making it a reflection of your personal attitudes and beliefs?

Empower your leaders. Hire for values and culture, not necessarily the resume. Give new team members the vision and company goals or targets, a road map for success and then get out of their way. No one wants to be micromanaged, empower your team members to make decisions, be a leader and make mistakes. No one is perfect but we want to instill confidence in each of our team members, so they know that “we support you no matter what, we have your back”. 

Our Core Values. CARES: Candor, Adaptable, Respect, Engaged and Stewardship. Set expectations, provide feedback, and let them do their job. People want to know where they are going, that they are doing a good job, that they are part of something, and that they are important – provide that environment and watch what happens. 

Hire slow and fire fast! After recruiting and creating teams for over a decade, I am a pretty good judge of character. I can also admit when I am wrong, 😊 which to me is a key factor in being a good judge of character. 

People Matter and they make all the difference. A lot of credit is given to me for all the great work that our team has done. It is the team and their decisions. Their decision to be part of the vision I share and then their decision to act: to be engaged, to preach our Core Values, and to live them. 

What advice do you wish you received that you pass on to others? 

Ask for help, you don’t know everything! Be humble! 

When I was younger, I struggled thinking I needed to be the smartest guy in the room. Boy, was I wrong! Surround yourself with smart people, be humble and learn from them.

Listen and take notes, DO NOT think of how you are going to respond, think and listen deeply. 

What apparent failure (either to outsiders or at the time) set you up for your later success? 

Facing adversity early led to an “adapt and overcome mentality”. Joining the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old – I cannot think of a harder challenge (Okay, I may be partial, Hah!). Personally, my parents getting a divorce, losing my stepfather, being laid off during the 2008 financial crisis, and attending college later in life. Professionally, our first car wash location had 176 liens on the land!

What is something you believe that others think is insane? (Perhaps it was starting a car wash!)

This is a great question! Well (besides being crazy and starting a car wash), I really believe that the mind is the most powerful force of nature. If you believe it (whatever your goal is), repeat it to yourself daily, think about it constantly, write it down, visualize it: it will happen. If you keep it in your mind and think positively, it will come true. 

Bottom line: day dreaming becomes reality. People look at me weird when I mention this sort of thing, but it is true. 

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